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Full text of "Extract from the address at the opening of the Nurses' Home of the Faulkner Hospital, June 12, 1913"

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HOSPITAL, JUNE 12, 1913. 

By George W. Gay, M.D. 

Members of the Graduating Class and Alumnae: 

You have finished your course in the Training School, but 
you have by no means finished your training, or your edu- 
cation and you never will so long as you pursue your voca- 
tion in a proper manner. It is with you, as it is with the 
physicians, there is always something to learn and those who 
keep an open mind will be the most successful in life. 

The first requisite of a good nurse is character. It is the 
cornerstone of her development. Upon it rests the super- 
structure of her life. Honesty, truthfulness, reliability, 
discretion, kindness and interest in her work are essentials 
in a first rate nurse. The second requisite is good health. 
Without that no one should think of entering your pro- 
fession or mine. It is also hoped that you are blessed with a 
cheerful, hopeful temperament, which will enable you to 
look upon the bright side of things, not only for your sake, 
but also for the good of your patients. It goes without 
saying that you will be expected to uphold the dignity of 
your profession by conducting yourselves as ladies under 
all circumstances. Your position in the community will be 
largely what you make it and it should be your aim to 
make it an enviable one. 

Your work will partake of the qualities of a profession, 
as well as of a business. It is something more than mere 
dollars and cents. The humanities are never to be lost 
sight of in dealing with the sick and injured. It is not 
difficult to believe that patients would be the gainers could 
every physician and every nurse have the personal experi- 
ence of a severe illness. They would learn some things of 
the sickroom that they will learn in no other way. This 
remark applies particularly to little things, such as rust- 

ling skirts, squeaking shoes, slamming doors, rattling win- 
dows, flapping curtains, dropping dishes, collisions with the 
bed and other articles of furniture and a thousand other 
things that are so annoying to an invalid. Trifles, you say ! 
Yes, to be sure, but trifles make perfection and perfection 
is no trifle. 

In going out into the world to pursue your vocation the 
first lesson you may have to learn is the difference between 
hospital and private nursing. In the hospital you have 
formed a part of an organization that is conducted upon 
certain rules and regulations. Your work has been system- 
atized. You have had certain prescribed duties to per- 
form and were always under the supervision of superiors. 
Some one was always at hand of whom you could ask ad- 
vice and assistance. In private nursing all this is changed. 
You are no longer the autocrat of the situation and cannot 
control the surroundings to the extent that you have been 
accustomed in the hospital. You will have to consider the 
wishes, the whims, the peculiarities of your patients and 
their friends, as never before. Futhermore, you will be 
thrown upon your own resources in emergencies. You will 
be the mainstay of the patient and the family in the ab- 
sence of the physician, and must do the best you can 
under the circumstances. Occasionally, but not often, you 
may be called upon to exhibit what the great Napoleon called 
"two o'clock in the morning courage." Here is where 
your training, backed up with common sense, will stand you 
in good stead. I hope that you are liberally endowed with 
that most useful quality. 

The nurse and the physician should always work together 
amicably in the interests of the patient. The interests of 
all lie in the same direction, those of the patient taking 
precedent. The nurse should be loyal to the doctor. Each 
is the complement of the other. The nurse should remember 
that the physician alone is responsible for the professional 
services in the case in hand. That her duty consists in 
carrying out his directions and in the general management 
of the sickroom. She is in no way responsible for the diag- 
nosis or treatment of the case. She should be chary, very 
chary, of criticism of the physician. You will meet with 
all kinds and it behooves you to accept the situation met 

with and make the best of it. It is not your province to 
select a physician for people. You should realize the fact 
that your choice might be no better than theirs, in which 
case you might be subjected to much criticism. Be discreet 
and never lose sight of the golden rule. 

By reason of your peculiar relations to the public, you will 
naturally come to be the repository of many family secrets. 
I trust that none may escape you. Do not cultivate wire- 
less telegraphy, nor let household number two know from 
you what is going on in household number one. Guard 
the private affairs of your patients, as you would have 
your own protected and as every honorable physician and 
nurse do protect them and have from time immemorial. 

Let the conversation in the sickroom be quiet, cheerful, 
hopeful, free from whispering and from the recital of hos- 
pital and other startling experiences. Sick people have 
little staying power, are easily fatigued by mental or physical 
exertion. Not realizing this fact, they are liable to overdo 
to their detriment. It is for the nurse to protect these peo- 
ple until they are able to care for themselves. Here is one 
of the many situations where your good judgment comes in, 
thus enabling you to control the situation. 

A nurse that can get along amicably with the domestics, 
thereby not disturbing the ordinary routine of the family, 
is a treasure indeed. Discretion, tact, and again tact, will 
be required to accomplish this object in many instances. 
Harmony in the household is most essential and it is worth 
your utmost endeavor to achieve it. May your efforts in this 
direction be always successful. 

So much for your duties to the patient, to the family and 
to the physician. Now for the other side of the picture, 
and that refers to your compensation for your services. One 
of your most satisfactory reflections as time goes on and 
your experience accumulates, will be the conviction that you 
have done faithful service, have given satisfaction to your 
employers, and have been successful in your chosen vocation. 
The fact that you are trusted and respected in the commu- 
nity, that your services are always in demand, that you are 
received and welcomed in the families you have served, that 
you have the commendation of the best people, make life 
worth living and your reputation worth all that it has cost 

you to gain it. Character tells in the long run, as does 
nothing else. 

At the risk of being thought too mercenary, I must call your 
attention for a moment to the commercial side of your work. 
Faithful, intelligent service will bring you the satisfaction 
of work well done, but sentiment will not pay your bills, 
nor will it enable you to lay by something for a rainy day, 
when you can earn little or nothing. You should realize 
the fact that the time may come when, a dollar will be the 
best friend you can have. Nurses, like physicians, have their 
day after which they must step aside for the new-comers. It 
therefore behooves us to be prepared to meet the changed 
conditions. Even should you be so fortunate as to obtain 
a happy home of your own, and I most sincerely hope you will, 
a nest egg in the shape of a bank account will never come 
amiss under any circumstances. 

Experience teaches that it is not infrequently more difficult 
to keep money, than it is to get it. Hence be careful in 
your investments. Look out for the principal. The in- 
come will take care of itself. Savings banks in this vicinity 
are the safest places for reasonable amounts of savings. Be 
shy of ten per cent, temptations and promises. Many a 
competency has been lost and many a worthy person has been 
thrown upon charity in this way. Avoid speculation, pro- 
motions, and "wild cats" of all sorts. Be safe rather than 
sorry. And finally, don't lend money to your friends. Give 
it to them if you want to, but don't lend it to them. Friend- 
ship is one thing, business is another and they are often- 
times singularly incompatible ! You cannot compel friends 
to pay debts, as you can strangers. Hence it is wiser to avoid 
these complications. There will be plenty of unavoidable 
ones in your careers. 
Members of the Graduating Class: 

Be honest, be faithful, be patient, be sympathetic, be kind 
and gentle in your care of the sick, be considerate of the 
family and friends, be loyal to the physician, be true to your 
profession and to yourselves. Let the golden rule be your 
guiding star. And so at the end of a long and successful 
career may you enjoy the satisfaction of realizing that you 
made no mistake in entering the noblest vocation open to